When you know something is great – whether a product or a place – you tell people about it. Likewise when you are trying to sell a product, you usually do some advertising.
The average person is exposed to as many as 5,000 advertisements a day (according to Yankelovich Consumer Research). But how often do we hear or see advertisements for small towns and rural communities? These places have great things to offer including jobs, natural amenities, and the ideal atmosphere to raise a family. Yet many of these communities are suffering from a decrease in population (the 2012 census estimates that 1 in 3 US counties are dying off) and are desperate to attract new residents.
Aging and dwindling populations are synonymous with rural areas. These areas need skilled labor and educated people. Doctors, lawyers, teachers, and people to take over small businesses are needed as older generations retire.
Yet many college grads bypass rural areas and flock to cities to pursue work. We assume they are drawn by the allure of a big city lifestyle. But maybe they would be drawn to the charming lifestyle/ way of life rural America has to offer, especially if they knew what they were missing.
My hometown recently launched a contest to promote the community on one of the most popular online sites – YouTube. Contestants will create videos promoting the positives of the small town and what life is like in the community. Videos will showcase the town’s attributes, activities that are unique in and around the area, and the good life the town has to offer.
The video with the most “hits” or views during a specific time period will win a cash prize. If the “hits” reach a million or more, the prize money will double. The prize money will come from city sales tax dollars.
Is promoting your town on YouTube a magic bullet for the “brain drain” so many of our towns experience? Probably not, but it could be an important piece. A concentrated ad campaign that entices college grads and other potential residents to rural areas is a great antidote to the rural exodus. Why not shine a bright light on all that is good in rural America?
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